Bhagavad Gita Lessons

Lesson 3: Oneness of Action and Inaction     
Session: 146 – 147

The creation is always in action. The consciousness is never in action. The creation contains many minds. The wise see the true nature of creation (action) and the true nature of consciousness (inaction). They are not bewildered by this. There are many who are progressing towards this ultimate goal. Since they do not comprehend the truth in its entirety, they debate between action and renouncing the action.

It is not possible for any human being to renounce action since they are part of the creation (Creation means continuous action). People can be divided into six categories based on their level of knowledge. Depending on the category their perception and prescription varies.

Category 1: Wise men living joyfully perceive the truth of oneness
He eats, sleeps does all such natural activities. However, he is aware that he is not the doer. He knows that he is the Atman that neither acts nor causes any action.
He may be adapting Professional Lifestyle or Spiritual Lifestyle according to his accumulated impressions. Since the lifestyle does not make any difference to him, he does not attach any importance to which style he is following. He does not have any duties since he has already reached the destination. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do.
His intelligence is rooted in the absolute knowledge that the only real entity is ever witnessing joy, which is his own self. In his vision, living beings are not independent entities but part of the ever changing whole. This knowledge and vision do not vary whatever be the lifestyle he may be following.
His mind is devoted to this truth and do not run behind sensory pleasures. The world continues to present sense objects to him (according to his accumulated impressions) and his sense organs continue to indulge in them to the extent warranted. Although enjoying the sensory pleasures, his mind is not attached to them. He is not elated at the prospects of the presence of sense objects nor is he affected by their absence. He does not work for gaining them nor wait for their arrival. His mind is absorbed in the knowledge of the eternal completely and it does not waver at the prospect of ephemeral.
Depending on the lifestyle he is following, he may appear to be a very busy person. He may be a businessperson, an executive, a ruler or a religious leader. Irrespective of his continuous action, he is aware that he does not do anything. 
Since he does not have anything to achieve in the life, he is free to adopt any lifestyle. His actions are to be construed as God’s action to provide appropriate environment for the experience of others. His actions do not bind him since such actions are done without a grand project plan and without any selfish desire.

Category 2: Those who have conviction but do not have knowledge
Many have gone through the Professional Lifestyle and understood the inadequacy of material pursuit in leading one to Joyful Living. Such people see the futility of action in the external world. They will be better off if they renounce action. They have the complete conviction that the material world cannot give them happiness and therefore they can adopt Spiritual Lifestyle. They can pursue systematic study of scriptures and work for gaining self-knowledge.
For such people renouncing the action is recommended.

Category 3: Those who have knowledge but do not have conviction
Many have learnt the ultimate knowledge. Although their intelligence has comprehended the answers to all the eternal questions, the mind is not rooted in the knowledge. The mind is still attracted by the worldly sense pleasures. Although they are aware that it is futile to go behind sense objects, their mind continue to waver and is not under the control of their intelligence.
Gaining knowledge is not possible without minimum level of mental maturity. They do have such minimum mental maturity but they do not have complete conviction.
For such people renouncing the action is recommended since they need to do meditation to make the mind abide by the knowledge.

Category 4: Those who do not have mental maturity/ Self-knowledge
For such people action is recommended. However, they need to do the action as Karma Yoga. If they do not, they will continue to be bound by action and will not gain mental maturity. Even to convert mere action into Karma Yoga, they need to make sufficient progress in learning self-knowledge.
People may not spend time and effort to learn the Vedas systematically under a teacher. However, they should attempt to gain required level of knowledge to convert karma into karma yoga.
Karma yoga without self-knowledge is incomplete.
Self-knowledge without karma yoga is impossible.
Therefore, it is recommended that people in this category do not renounce action. They need to be in action until they gain sufficient quantum of mental maturity, conviction and self-knowledge before moving on to spiritual lifestyle for pursuing systematic study of Vedas.

Category 5: Those who do not yet know the correct goal or path
There is only one goal in life for everyone, which is to live joyfully. There is only one path to the goal, which is to gain mental maturity and self-knowledge. However, people in this category are mixed up with the path and the goal. People start their journey towards happiness but they assume name, fame, money, power, position and such material objects will bring them happiness. Therefore, they switch their goal. Instead of chasing happiness, they start chasing material objects. For them the goal in life is ever elusive and keeps varying all the time.
Example: If I get married, I will be happy. If I build my own house, I will be happy. If I get promotion, children… the list is endless.
They have lost sight of the only goal in life and for them there is no choice of renouncing action. They would like to have more and more action.
For such people, prayer and devotion is recommended. In addition to their material pursuit, they should spend time and resources towards any religious practices. Such action will earn them sufficient good results and bring them an opportunity to know the only goal and path in life.

Category 6: Those who do not have any goal in life
Such people live according to their likes and dislikes as dictated by their mind. They are actually not making any progress in life because they live like animals without a goal in life. It is important to bring the mind under the control of intelligence to live a planned life progressing towards a goal. It does not matter whether the goal is right or wrong. One has to have a goal in life. If they do not, they will be happy when the environment around them is conducive and suffer when it is not.
They need to start following the religious rituals that help them to practice control of mind and control of sense organs. Such actions will purify their heart and make them progress towards material pursuit. Only material pursuit will give them required mental maturity to move on to spiritual pursuit.
Thus, depending on the category one belongs the action is done differently. People with Self-Knowledge are aware that they are not the doers. A person following Karma Yoga performs action for the sake of the God. Others assume that they are the body/mind complex doing the actions.

Chapter 5: Science of renouncement                         
Verses: 03 – 12

5.3 Oh Arjuna, one who has neither desire nor hatred is said to be a renounced person always. Because one who is beyond the pairs of opposites he is completely freed from the bondages effortlessly.

5.4 Only the ignorant speak of karma-yoga and renouncement of action as being different, not the wise. By resorting to one of the two properly, one attains the results of both.

5.5 That goal that is reached by means of renunciation can also be attained by karma yoga also. Therefore, one who sees that the path of karma yoga and the path of renunciation are one sees things as they are.

5.6 Oh Arjuna, renunciation of action is difficult to attain without karma yoga. But those who are in the path of karma yoga attain Brahman before long.

5.7 Having mastered the body and sense organs, the pure-minded person in karma yoga becomes Atman, which is the self of all beings. Though always working, such a man is never entangled.

5.8-9 A person with self-knowledge, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, speaking, evacuating, receiving, opening or closing his eyes, moving about, reclining and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all bearing in mind that it is the nature of the sense organs to remain in sense objects.

5.10 Dedicating the actions to the God, he who acts without attachment is not affected by sins just as the lotus leaf is not wet by the water.

5.11 Without attachment karma yogis perform action for the sake of purity with the body, mind intellect and sense organs without identification.

5.12 Renouncing the result of action, the disciplined person attains peace born of karma yoga. Attached to the result due to impulse of desire, the undisciplined person becomes entangled.

Lesson 4: Renouncement through action  
Session: 148 – 149

All human beings interact with the sense objects of the world with their thoughts, words and deeds. Such actions lead to likes and dislikes. The likes and dislikes set the preferences in the mind. Since mind is part of the subtle body which travels birth after birth, such preferences also travel with the person to his next lifetime and he continues to run after the sense objects.

Sense organs are exposed to the sense objects and thoughts are created in the mind. Such thoughts are processed in the light of the accumulated preferences, resulting in desires. Desires give rise to contemplation of the object and talking about it. Desires become stronger and one is driven into action.

Mind will convince the intelligence that it is not possible to be happy without getting the object of desire. In the beginning, the number of such objects is limited. As we grow, the number of such objects keeps increasing. The chance of becoming unhappy is continuously increasing since the dependence on sense objects of the world is on the rise.

This is called binding. One is bound to the sense objects of the world. Sense objects, including other living beings, do not have the power to bind anyone. If one is bound, it is due to one’s own action.

Attachment to sense objects are one’s own making. There is no chance of getting liberation if the actions driven out of desires are not stopped. Nevertheless, it is not possible for everyone to renounce the action when there are strong desires.

Teaching 74: Most people are bound to action and cannot renounce them

Like Arjuna, most educated human beings are bound to action and it is not possible for them to renounce action. This does not mean that these people can never get liberation from the binding of the sense objects. They can progress towards Joyful Living gradually.

The first step is to gain the knowledge about the true nature of sense objects.

Example: A man loves his wife very deeply. However, his wife is cheating him. He cannot see this because he is blinded by his love. She takes money from him and gives it to her lover. The husband does not doubt his wife’s behavior because he loves her so much and feels that he cannot live without her. 

It is very difficult to come out of such a situation. The husband will wake up only when he comes to know the true nature of his wife.

Similarly, one needs to gain the true knowledge on the sense objects of the world. Due to strong preferences, one assumes that it is not possible to live without numerous sense objects (including friends and family) in the world. It is very difficult to come out of this binding.

Example: The husband should control his actions. All his actions might have been born out of his love to his wife. He cannot abandon such action. However, he should do the very same action out of intelligence and not out of mind. This is controlled action. Then he will start observing the odd behavior of his cheating wife.

Similarly, only through controlled action, one can see that he is chasing a mirage. By controlled action, Karma Yoga is meant. One should do action (since it is not possible to renounce action) as a dedication to God. The action may be born out of the desires but one should dedicate it to God consciously. Then the results of the actions should be accepted as a gift from God and not due to one’s own effort. If action is done as Karma Yoga, then one will see the true nature of sense objects. There is no happiness in the sense objects. Only when one gains sufficient conviction that the sense objects do not give happiness, one can turn towards spiritual pursuit and understand the insights given in Vedas.

This knowledge is similar to sunlight. All the darkness of the night is removed by the sunlight. Our ignorance about the true nature of sense objects is removed by self-knowledge. Once we are awakened to this ultimate knowledge, everything falls in its place. There is no more confusion or contradiction in the world or in life. Everything is in order. All actions and so-called inactions are in line with the grand design of creation. One gets the answers to all the eternal questions.

Then one renounces action.

Example: That man finds his wife in the bed with her lover. Then he realizes the true nature of his wife and sends her away.

Similarly, when one realizes the futility of prosperity in getting happiness, the attraction towards sense objects stops.

Example: Unless that man finds another loving wife, he will remain unhappy after divorcing his first wife.

Similarly, one has to find the true source of happiness after realizing that there is no happiness in the sense objects. This is done by acquiring self-knowledge. Vedas reveal the truth that the only source of happiness is the Atman and it is necessary to comprehend this truth through systematic study of Vedanta and reflect on the truth revealed therein.

Once the intelligence is convinced that the true nature of one’s own self is happiness, one has to train the mind to be firm on the knowledge. This is achieved through meditation.

After completing these three steps, one is rooted in the knowledge. On reaching this destination, one lives joyfully. One may renounce all actions since there is nothing to achieve in life. Thus, one renounces action through action.

The transition from action to renouncement is summed up in the following steps:
Step 1: Action is done uncontrollably prompted by the desires.
Step 2: Action is done in a controlled environment. Without renouncing the physical action, one mentally renounces it. This is Karma Yoga.
Step 3: One gains conviction that there is no happiness in the sense objects. Therefore, the desires for material pursuit wane away.
Step 4: One turn towards gaining self-knowledge and finds the source of happiness.
Step 5: On reaching the destination, actions are renounced completely. Whatever actions one does is seen as inaction due to the right knowledge. On reaching this step, the accumulated preferences are not converted as selfish desires, since he has the knowledge on the true nature of sense objects.

His vision reveals the true picture of the universe. All the objects are made up of three elements, Aura, Energy and Matter. They will always be in action. Such action is possible due to the presence of the indwelling Atman, which is the only reality. Therefore, even if his eyes report varied objects in the world, his mind sees the changeless Atman and ever-changing inert body in all of them. Thus, his vision is uniform.

Example: All sweets are made with identical ingredients. However, the color and shapes vary. Children see them as birds and animals. An adult disregard the form and see the oneness of the substance behind.

Similarly, after reaching the destination one sees the oneness of the substance behind the creation. He is not carried away by the attractive forms.

However, his response to the sense objects that he encounters will differ depending on the name and form. For example, if a stray dog comes closer he will try to avoid it. Thus, there are two levels of reality to him. At the relative reality, he deals with the objects differently. However, at the absolute level he knows them to be sustained by the same Atman.

Types of renouncement
Renouncement of action includes reduction or elimination of Possessions, Obligations/ duties, Responsibilities and Transactions in the external world. The quantum of action depends on these four factors (PORT). Therefore, in order to renounce action one has to reduce or eliminate these four factors.

Type 1: Renouncement as a means
Once a person gains conviction that the worldly objects are not capable of giving everlasting happiness, he can renounce them for gaining self-knowledge. This type of renouncement is a means to achieve the goal of Joyful Living.
Even after gaining self-knowledge, one has to become steady in the knowledge through meditation. After gaining self-knowledge, the intelligence clearly sees the fact that the true happiness is the nature of the Atman and the objects of the world cannot give happiness. However, as long as, the mind is involved in dealing with the sense objects it may not subdue to the authority of intelligence and it may continue to be attached to the world. Thus, action may be considered as an unwanted hindrance and one may renounce them for facilitation of steady knowledge.
This type of renouncement is always physical in nature. One has to reduce PORT physically.

Type 2: Renouncement as an end
One may or may not renounce action for gaining self-knowledge or making it steady. It is possible to reach the goal either way. However, after reaching the goal renouncement is a natural outcome.
This type of renouncement is always mental in nature. One may or may not renounce the actions physically. Once the destination of Joyful Living is reached, it is clearly known that the worldly objects do not have any importance. Therefore, one naturally gives up or renounces action in the mind level. Depending on the accumulated impressions, one may or may not physically renounce the action.
If renouncement is mental and physical, the external observers do not find any contradiction. Similarly, if one renounces action only in the mental level and continue to be in Professional Lifestyle, still people do not see any conflicts. However, there are cases where one who is in Spiritual Lifestyle, may not physically renounce action. He may have many possessions and properties. He may enjoy them as well. He may be actively involved in many transactions and might be fulfilling many obligations and responsibilities.
Example: A religious leader might own a large establishment and be involved in a busy schedule of propagating the objectives of his organization. He may be traveling in a luxury car and own private aircrafts to support his activities.
It is possible that such a person could have renounced action completely at the mental level. Physical renouncement need not accompany mental renouncement.
As long as one is living in society, one has to adhere to the norms of the society. Even if he is in the Spiritual Lifestyle, he will have minimum duties like dressing up and maintain cleanliness etc. The duties and responsibilities of the person in the Professional Lifestyles will be many even if that person has reached the ultimate goal of Joyful Living. He may be involved in action to fulfill the duties and responsibilities, without any mental attachment. As far as he is concerned, he does not see any action in his actions.

Teaching 75: On gaining self-knowledge all actions are renounced

Results of action
Results of actions depend on two factors.
Factor 1: Whether the action is good or bad
Depending on this factor the results will be positive or negative. The people whom we meet, our relatives, friends, circumstances, situations, events and environment are determined based ONLY on this factor.
Factor 2: How well (sincerity/ efficiency/ hard work/ etc) the action is done
Depending on this factor our skill, capability and knowledge will grow. Our preferences will also change according to this factor.

Karma Vs Karma Yoga
If the action is done as Karma Yoga, in addition to the above we will gain mental maturity.
The type of work done does not matter. For example, one may work as a CEO of an organization or as cobbler on the street corner. The quantum of money earned will differ according to Factor 1. The growth in preferences, knowledge and skill level will depend on Factor 2. If both of them are doing their respective work as Karma Yoga, the benefit of mental maturity will come to them in equal measure.

Nature of Creation:
Energy in the form of preferences causes the action
Matter in the form of impressions gives the results of the action
Aura born out of knowledge liberates one from the cycle of actions-results
All these three together forms the creation. The ego, the sense of I, is an entity that does not exist. It is similar to the reflection in the mirror. The reflection cannot assume that it is doing the action. Similarly, we do not do any action. All action is part of the creation and the original substance is changeless Atman.

Chapter 5: Science of renouncement                   
Verses: 13 – 20

5.13 Mentally renouncing all actions through knowledge, the self-controlled person comfortably resides in the city of nine gates [the body] neither doing any action nor causing any action.

5.14 The Atman does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does it enjoys the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the three modes of the nature.

5.15 The Atman does not assume anyone's sinful or pious activities. Human beings, however, are deluded because their discriminatory power is veiled by ignorance.

5.16 When, however, one is enlightened with the knowledge by which the ignorance is destroyed, and then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime.

5.17 When one's intelligence and mind are rooted in Brahman, one becomes fully cleansed of all the impurities through complete knowledge and thus he proceeds straight on the path of liberation.

5.18 The wise people who have the knowledge see the same Brahman in a Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater.

5.19 Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman.

5.20 Such a person neither rejoices upon achieving something pleasant nor laments upon obtaining something unpleasant. He is intelligent and without delusion knows God. He is to be understood as already situated in Brahman.

Lesson 5: Conviction on the source of happiness
Session: 150 – 152

All human beings are under the wrong assumption that happiness lies in the external world. Only those who are intelligent among them realize that the happiness in the external objects is a deception. This realization can come either through experience or through learning.

In this context, the phrase ‘objects of the world’ includes money, wealth, name, fame, award, reward, people, property, position, power, status, comforts and companionship.

Teaching 76: There is no happiness in the objects of the world

There are six reasons to show that there is no happiness in the world.

Reason 1: The happiness is momentary
Any happiness that we seem to enjoy from an external object is sandwiched between pains.
 Example: One wants to build a house to live.
One goes through lots of tension and pain while working towards fulfillment of this desire. When the house is finally constructed, one is happy. However, this happiness does not last long. There are many things pending to be done to make the house better and the process never ends. Even before the last requirement is provided, the house is due for painting.

Reason 2: It makes one a slave
Once we possess an object of our desire, it becomes a necessity. It no longer gives any happiness and its absence gives us suffering.
 Example: One wants to buy an air conditioner for the bedroom.
Although one feels happiness while going to bed for the first few days slowly it will become impossible to sleep without air conditioner. Previously this person could sleep peacefully even if the temperature is very hot. Now he has become a slave to the air conditioner.
The more we work and acquire more objects for our happiness, more dependent we become. The process of converting the luxuries into necessities is the phenomenon associated with becoming rich. The one who does not have any necessities in life is the true rich person. Even the body is seen as a luxury by such a person. Thus, the process of converting all the necessities as luxuries is the right way of becoming rich. Only then, one is fully liberated. Else, he remains as a slave to the environment.

Reason 3: Law of diminishing returns
The happiness one derives from the sense objects will keep diminishing.
Example: One is happy to eat the first scoop of ice cream. Every additional scoop will give comparatively less happiness. Beyond a limit, it will start giving pain. It will be a great punishment if one is forced to eat more ice cream.
Thus, there is limitation in enjoying any sense pleasures.

Reason 4: The sense organs will deteriorate
As one ages, the ability to enjoy the sense objects will keep diminishing since the physical sense organs will not be functioning well. This will cause suffering.

Reason 5: The happiness is never fulfilling
No one is completely satisfied by enjoying any sense pleasures. Invariably the sense of inadequacy returns and man will think unless he gains the next object of desire, he is incomplete.
This applies to any pleasure obtained from the world. There is always something better available to obtain.

Reason 6: The happiness is mixed with pain
Happiness and suffering are the two sides of the same coin. For example, if promotion gives happiness, the additional responsibility that comes with it will be a pain.
These six reasons highlight the fact that there is no eternal happiness in the objects of the world. Once someone gains conviction of this fact, he will turn towards spiritual pursuit and learn about the source of everlasting happiness.
One may intellectually understand that there is no happiness in the objects of the world. However, his mind will tend to run behind sense pleasures due to force of habit. There is a constant tug of war where on one side the intelligence is presenting the truth that there is no happiness in the external objects and on the other side, the sense organs are pulling it towards the sense pleasures.

Only to resolve this struggle, Karma Yoga is suggested. Once the power of the pull of sense organs is reduced, it is possible to turn the attention to learning self-knowledge.

One should learn to renounce action after realizing that there is no happiness in the external world. It will take time and effort. Just as a baby takes time to learn walking and talking, one should renounce the action gradually.

The intelligence may have gained the conviction that there is no happiness in the objects of the world. However, the mind may require some training to gain the same level of conviction. Such training is given through meditation.

Chapter 5: Science of renouncement                
Verses: 21 – 25

5.21 Such a liberated person will not seek the momentary happiness in the external world but is always enjoying the happiness of Atman. In this way, the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he is established in Brahman.

5.22 Oh Arjuna, those pleasures that are born out of contact are indeed sources of sorrow because they have a beginning and an end. The wise does not revel in them.

5.23 Before giving up this body, if one is able to manage the impulses born of desire and anger, he is a yogi and is happy in this world.

5.24 One whose happiness is within, who rejoices within and is illumined within, is liberated and attains oneness with the Brahman.

5.25 Sages who are free from impurities, who are self-restrained, who are interested in the welfare of all beings is free from all sins, achieves oneness with the Brahman.

Lesson 6: Gaining conviction through meditation
Session: 153 – 154

Anger is the twin sister of desire. It is very difficult to control anger without controlling desire. When the mind gains conviction that there is no happiness in the objects of the world, it will stop desiring them. When there are no more desires, there will not be any anger. Until this status is achieved, one should work through following steps to reduce anger.

Anger is expressed in thoughts, words and deeds and it is essential that one control the anger systematically in the reverse order.

Step 1: Control the deeds
If our intelligence has sufficient control over the mind, this step can be easily achieved. Whenever, we become angry, we should be very cautious on how we respond to it in our action. Since we are aware, that our mind does not function correctly in the angry mood, we should resolve that all our action be completely controlled. We often repent our own action, which was done as an impulsive response to an incident that causes anger.
We can decide to donate a huge sum of money to a good cause if we express our anger through our deeds. If we make such a donation every time, our intelligence will get enough strength to arrest our mind from acting under the influence of anger.

Step 2: Control the words
As the next step, we should control our words expressed in an angry mood.
We can decide to donate a fixed sum of money to a good cause if we express our anger through our words. If we make such a donation every time, our intelligence will get enough strength to arrest our mind from expressing angry words.

Step 3: Control the thoughts
This is very difficult to do unless the strength of the desires is greatly reduced. One can attempt to ensure that the anger, which is expressed as thoughts, is not encouraged. It is important to understand that it is not possible to change anyone. Everyone will function as machines in a predetermined manner controlled by their preferences and knowledge. If we gain sufficient knowledge, we will understand that the person, whose behavior is causing the anger in us, cannot behave differently. He is controlled by his preferences and knowledge and it is impossible to change his behavior.

Once we gain this understanding, the anger at our thought level will reduce. For example, we do not become angry on a cow, if it decides to cross the road without any warning. We had to encounter such a situation due to our own accumulated impressions. We cannot blame ourselves because we accumulated such impressions due to our own past actions done due to our preferences and knowledge at that time.

No one can change us either. If our knowledge is limited, we will continue to become angry and it is not possible to stop our anger at the thought level. However, as and when we gain enough knowledge, we should not entertain the anger even at the thought level.

Once these three steps are crossed, one will be relatively free from the effects of desire.

Prevention is better than curing. We should avoid anger, fear, irritation and all such negative emotions. Desire is the only cause for all such negative emotions. It is not possible to remove all the negative emotions without removing desire. Desire can be removed only when the mind gains conviction that the there is no happiness in the objects of the world.

The first step is to gain intellectual conviction. The next step is to do meditation on the fact that there is no happiness in the objects of the world.

Teaching 77: Meditation is a tool to refine the mind to see the truth

Chapter 5: Science of renouncement                
Verses: 26 – 29

5.26 Those who are self-restrained and free from anger and desires, who are self-realized are assured of liberation and achieve oneness with Brahman.

5.27-28 Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the eyes and vision concentrated between the two eyebrows, suspending the inward and outward breaths within the nostrils, thus controlling the mind, senses and intelligence, the seeker becomes free from desire, fear and anger. One who meditates like this is certainly liberated.

5.29 The sages, knowing Me as the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the lord of all the worlds and the well-wisher of all living beings attain peace.

Unit 14: Role of meditation in Joyful Living   
Number of Sessions: 25
(156 – 180)
Number of Lessons: 2
Verses: 6.01 – 6.47

On completion of this unit, the student will be able to
(a) Comprehend the types, roles and nature of meditation
(b) Meditate in a scientific manner

Unit Test:                  Session: 180
1. What are the five levels of meditation?
2. What are the fourteen steps to refine the mind?
3. What are the benefits obtained as by-products of meditation?
4. What are the three objectives of meditation that are prohibited?
5. What are the five requirements to be met in the daily routine before commencing any meditation?
6. What are the 5X5 preparations to be done prior to starting the meditation?
7. What are the four factors that differentiate Vedantic Meditation from others?
8. What are the four benefits listed for a Joyous Person who completes all the fourteen steps?
9. What are the six reasons that make the process of meditation difficult?
10. Is it possible for anyone to complete all the fourteen steps?

Lesson 1: Nature of Meditation       
Session: 156 – 175

Meditation is a mental action in which mind is used to refine itself so that it facilitates Joyful Living.

Actions include physical activities, verbal activities (listening and speaking) and mental activities. Meditation involves only mental activities to the complete exclusion of physical and verbal activities. While doing meditation one is expected not to entertain any physical or verbal activities.

Mind is a tool that is being used to deal with the world and it is to be refined through the process of meditation, so that it remains effective. It is slightly a complicated process since we need to use the very same mind to refine it.

Some of us used to observe how the minds of other people work.

Example: The wife knows that her husband will get angry if the dinner is not ready when he comes back from work.

However, most of us do not observe our own mind. Meditation is a process, which requires us to turn our attention to our own mind so that we understand how it works and refine it.

The ultimate purpose of meditation is to facilitate Joyful Living. It is not possible to live joyfully by correcting the world. We need to correct our mind so that we can live joyfully. Meditation is a technique that helps us to achieve this goal.

Meditation is process of refining mind. Using the mind without doing meditation is similar to using the crude oil without refining it. Unrefined crude oil is very ineffective and after refinement, it becomes very effective aviation fuel.

When crude oil is refined, we get various products like gas, diesel, petrol and aviation fuel. Similarly, when we refine our mind, at various stages of refinement we achieve various levels of efficiency. Depending on the level of intelligence, people use the technique of meditation to refine their mind and draw benefits according to the level of refinement.

The highest level to which the mind can be refined through meditation is to make it fit to receive the self-knowledge and enable us live joyfully. We should refine our mind to the finest level so that we live happily all the time.

If the process of refinement of the mind is stopped at a lower level, the benefit that we get will also be at a lower level.

There are five levels of refinement of mind achieved through the five types of meditation as detailed below.

Level 1: Relaxation Meditation
Level 2: Concentration Meditation
Level 3: Expansion Meditation
Level 4: Value Meditation
Level 5: Vedantic Meditation

Depending on our intelligence, we can refine our mind to the finest level. People, who are less intelligent, practice the first two levels of refinement and they are happy with the inferior benefits. Relaxation Meditation and Concentration Meditation can be practiced without any theoretical knowledge. People with more intelligence will gain additional inputs and progress up to the highest level of refinement namely, Vedantic Meditation.

Similar to the process of refining crude oil into petrol, the process of refining our mind through meditation involves additional inputs at various stages of refinement.

The process of refining our mind

Step   1: Understand the purpose of meditation
Step   2: Select appropriate lifestyle
Step   3: Set or modify the daily routine
Step   4: Prepare for meditation
Step   5: Practice Relaxation Meditation
Step   6: Practice Concentration Meditation
Step   7: Inputs from Vedas
Step   8: Practice Karma Yoga
Step   9: Practice Expansion Meditation
Step 10: Practice Value Meditation
Step 11: Inquiry of Vedanta under a teacher
Step 12: Introspection of the knowledge
Step 13: Understand the unique features of Vedantic Meditation
Step 14: Practice Vedantic Meditation

Each step involves gaining the relevant knowledge and then practice the appropriate level of meditation. Depending on knowledge and practice gained by the individual in the previous births, one can complete the earlier steps at a faster pace and move on to the highest level.

It is possible to start the practice of Relaxation Meditation and Concentration Meditation without going through the first three steps. However, it is like eating from a plate, which is not washed. We can eat from a dirty plate and still gain the benefit of eating. However, the damage that might be caused is obvious. Therefore, one has to go through all the steps systematically including the first three steps so that maximum benefit is achieved.

Step 1: Understand the purpose of meditation

Main purpose of meditation:

There is a constant feeling of inadequacy in the mind. It is never completely remains fulfilled/ satisfied. Mind seems to be like a vessel with a hole in the bottom. It never remains full. This is the only cause of all our problems and through the fourteen steps covering five levels of meditation, this problem of the mind is resolved. Thus achieving the state of Joyful Living is the main purpose of meditation.

Incidental benefits of meditation:

One can attempt meditation for many purposes. Some of them are:

1. To arrest the wavering nature of mind and experience a peaceful state
2. To increase the ability to concentrate
3. To improve the decision making capabilities
4. To maintain good health

Since it is possible to achieve Joyful Living by refining our mind to the highest level, we should not stop with such incidental benefits of meditation.

One should not attempt meditation for the following purposes:

1. For gaining any new knowledge. Knowledge cannot come from meditation. It can come only through the instruments of knowledge.
2. For gaining any extraordinary/ mystical experiences. During meditation, one may experience extraordinary experiences. However, this is not the purpose of meditation. However, nice one may feel about such experiences they all last for a short duration and will not have any lasting impact on the quality of life.
3. For gaining any special/ mystical powers. Although it requires strenuous practice, it is possible to attain super human powers like converting energy into matter and such feats by sharpening the mind through meditation. However, since such powers are also useful only to the extent of changing our environment, they will not remove the feeling of inadequacy of our mind.

Step 2: Select appropriate lifestyle

One has the option to select from either Professional Lifestyle or Spiritual Lifestyle to facilitate the process of refining the mind. It is recommended to follow Professional Lifestyle and refine the mind up to Step No: 10 and then switch over to Spiritual Lifestyle. In this way, all the fourteen steps can be executed with ease. If it is not possible for one to quit the Professional Lifestyle, one may complete the remaining four steps by dedicating additional time and effort.

Step   3: Set or modify the daily routine

The time spent on meditation may vary from 15 minutes to an hour. The effectiveness of this effort depends on how the remaining 23 hours of the day is spent. It is not possible to meditate if one is living a hectic life without much rest to the body/ mind. In addition, if the actions are not in line with Dharma, our own mind will not allow us to do any meditation.

The complete list of dos and don’ts is given below:

1. Abstain from five evils: Do not be violent. Do not lie. Do not steal. Avoid immoral sex. Do not accumulate wealth without proportional spending.
2. Observe the five noble deeds: Maintain internal and external purity. Be content with whatever is available. Practice austerity. Do scriptural study. Surrender to god.
3. Do regular physical exercise and keep the body fit. One should be neither too lazy nor lead a too hectic daily routine.
4. Do breathing exercises (maintaining the process of inhaling, retaining and exhaling under the guidance of a teacher)
5. Practice self-restraint by withdrawing from external world. Observe the process of creation of thoughts from the external sense objects.  Do not indulge in any activity. Ensure a balanced life. Be moderate with respect to:
a. Eating
b. Exercise
c. Sleeping
d. Working
e. Entertainment

Life should be in such a way that it is smooth and steady. A terrorist, a thief, a stock market broker and such persons whose life style involves constant threats from the environment will not be able to progress to the highest levels of meditation.

Step   4: Preparation for meditation

Once the life is streamlined, one can start doing meditation. Following (5X5) preparations are required to commence meditation

1. Time
a. Frequency: At least once but not more than twice in a day
b. Duration: Twenty minutes which can be extended up to an hour
c. Timing: Preferred time is soon after waking up in the morning. The order of recommendation is early morning, dawn, dusk. However, an individual can select a time that is more convenient.
d. Routine: The time for meditation should not vary. Every day one should sit for meditation at the very same time.
e. Interval: Meditation should be done for a continuous period of three months and above. Skipping one or two days in between due to change in the daily schedules is permitted. However, one should not leave a gap of a week or more.
2. Place
a. One should choose a quite place
b. Meditation should be practiced in solitude. To the extent possible ensure that people do not move around the place of meditation.
c. The place should be neat, clean and well organized.
d. It is preferable to sit in a prayer room. Dining room and bedrooms are to be avoided. Places like bar, theater, racecourse and office that does not support the process of looking inwards, should be avoided.
e. The place should be even.
3. Seat
a. Personal (It is preferable that one does not share the seat with others)
b. Soft
c. Steady
d. Comfortable
e. Neither at the ground level nor at a much higher level. A normal chair or firm sofa is acceptable but a soft mat/ folded cloth is preferable. 
4. Position
a. One should sit down. Standing up or lying down is not advisable.
b. One should sit steadily and comfortably
c. It should not cause any pain nor require any additional effort.
d. Very relaxed and not strained.
e. The eyes should be half-closed as if looking at the tip of the nose
5. Composure
a. Be open minded
b. Not to have any expectation
c. Disown Possessions, Obligations, Relationships and Transactions (PORT) completely during the planned duration of meditation (20mins).
d. Close sensory inputs so that mind can remain peaceful to some extent
e. Decide that world can do without you for the next 20 minutes

Step   5: Practice Relaxation Meditation

Meditation concerns about mind. However, in this first level of meditation, no importance is to be given to the mind. The objective of Relaxation Meditation is to ensure that one is prepared to progress to the subsequent levels of meditation. Even after gaining competence, the remaining four levels of meditations are to be preceded by Relaxation Meditation. To start any level of meditation, one has to start with Relaxation Meditation. However, once competence is gained, the time taken to relax completely will not be more then few minutes.

During Relaxation Meditation, one should start relaxing the physical body, starting from the tip of the toe. Mentally one should leave the control of the body and completely relax part-by-part ultimately covering the whole body.

Procedure for doing Relaxation Meditation:

Stage 1:

1. Meeting all the conditions prescribed in Preparation for meditation (Step 4) one should practice this meditation for about 20 minutes
2. Normally we always keep our body in tension. We should relax our body completely as we relax our hand prior to receiving an injection from a doctor/ nurse.
3. There should not be any movement in the body after complete relaxation
4. All the sense organs (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling) should be peaceful without functioning. Just as it happens in sleep, but one should not fall asleep (One will not fall asleep if one is not tired).
5. Breathing should be uniform

Stage 2:

Mastering the first stage might take a month or more. Once this stage is easily done, we can proceed to the second stage of Relaxation Meditation wherein there is one additional task, which is to start observing the mind.

Mind is an instrument that we use to observe the world around us and we seldom get time to observe our own mind. During the second stage of Relaxation Meditation, one should become a spectator of one’s own thoughts. It should similar to the way we observe a river. We do not control or comment on the flow of the river. Similarly, we should not encourage good / pleasant thoughts nor discourage bad or unpleasant thoughts.

It is like running a cycle without pedaling or applying break through ups and downs of a road.

A specific instruction to the intelligence is to be given that it should not do any thinking, planning or decision-making. Intelligence should be given a complete break and the only task is to be done is to observe the thoughts without the sense of ownership.

Normally, people identify themselves with mind, thinking ‘I am my mind’. During this Relaxation Meditation, one should separate the ‘I’ from the mind and start observing the thoughts that occur in the mind as an unconcerned external observer. It may be little difficult for some to use the mind to observe the mind. It is similar to a spectacled man seeing his specs. Unless pointed out he will not see the specs through which he sees everything. Therefore, only with practice one will reach the stage of observing the mind as an external object.

Benefit of Relaxation Meditation

The only true purpose of Relaxation Meditation is to serve as a stepping-stone to other levels of meditations. However, it has many by-products. Couple of most important by-products is:

1. Relaxation: In general, people are having a hectic schedule in life and they hardly get a break from the routine except while sleeping. Relaxation Meditation provides them with an opportunity to refresh. After the twenty minutes of meditation, people may feel the freshness that is normally experienced after a nightlong deep sleep.

2. Improved decision-making: Throughout the day, the mind keeps accumulating various inputs continuously. It does not get a gap to step away from the problems and think about the problems objectively. During the Relaxation Meditation, the intelligence steals the time available and reflects on the possible solutions. As a result, it will come up with many possible solutions to the problem on hand.

It should be noted that this is not the purpose of Relaxation Meditation. If people continue to use the meditation for this by-product of improved decision-making, then it can no longer be called a process of refining the mind. If this by-product is required, people can do this exercise without calling it by the name, ‘meditation’. In addition to doing such exercise, one should find separate time to do Relaxation Meditation wherein the intelligence is given specific instruction of not doing any thinking, planning or decision-making work. If the separate time is not allocated for intelligence to do these tasks, it will invariably steal the time allocated for Relaxation Meditation. Just as we tell children that we will take them out latter and convince them to do the homework, we need to pacify the intelligence by saying that separate time will be allocated for thinking, planning and decision-making.

Step   6: Practice Concentration Meditation

Once we become comfortable with Relaxation Meditation and able to do it with ease, we can move on to Concentration Meditation. It should be possible to complete both Relaxation Meditation and Concentration Meditation within twenty minutes. However, depending on individual preferences it can be extended up to an hour.

Every time one attempts Concentration Meditation, it should be preceded by Relaxation Meditation. For some it should be possible to achieve the objectives of Relaxation Meditation within few minutes so that more time is spent on Concentration Meditation.

Purpose of doing Concentration Meditation:

By nature, mind keeps wavering. It is like a young calf keep jumping and running all around without any rest. It is not possible to make the calf stand still. At the same time, we cannot let it run where it wants. A compromise between these two extreme is to tie the calf to a pole with a long rope. Then the calf can still jump and run but within the boundary drawn by the rope.

Similarly, Concentration Meditation ties the mind to a long rope initially and then it keeps reducing the length of the rope until the mind is forced to stand still.

Procedure for doing Concentration Meditation:

Stage 1

One should give any specific task to the mind and allow it to think about the chosen topic. All other thoughts should be banned. Initially, it can be a wide task like ‘think about my family’ and it should be progressively narrowed down to more difficult task similar to cutting down the length of the rope.

Example: An architect can build a temple in the mind. A software engineer can attempt to construct a new product or website within his mind.

It is essential that the thoughts should not stray outside the chosen task.

The basic principle of doing Concentration Meditation is to enable the intelligence to gain control over the mind. Normally, our mind is entertaining various thoughts over which we do not have any control. For example, we do not know what we will think after ten minutes nor we can say what the tenth thought will be. During Concentration Meditation, we make this possible. We can say that we will be thinking about the chosen topic after ten minutes.

Stage 2

As we gain control, we should narrow down the task.

Example: One can recite the Gita if it is known by-heart. Or one can keep repeating any long poem, song, Ten Commandments or names of vegetables.

This repetition should be done in the mind and there should not be any physical movement. Besides, one should not stray outside the prefixed list. While repeating the names of the vegetables, one should not include any new name. A preset number of names alone should be kept repeating.

Stage 3

Then we should reach stage of a single thought.

 Example: Hare Krishna or Coca Cola

We should be able to concentrate on this single phrase during the entire time spent on meditation.

It is important that we repeat the word in the mind without moving our lips. If we can do this 108 times without thinking of anything else then we have achieved the goal of Concentration Meditation. It may not be possible for all to achieve this level and it is perfectly alright if the mind strays into unwanted thoughts. Although this means that we have not mastered the art of Concentration Meditation, it shows that we have gained some control over our mind. Previously we had no clue on what it will think. At least now we know that with few exceptions.

One should not attempt to eliminate all thoughts.

Mind has very high potential to concentrate. If sufficiently trained, it can do wonders.   It is like focusing the sunlight through a lens. It can cause fire. Similarly, it is possible to gain extraordinary powers like ESP, if we do Concentration Meditation under expert’s guidance. However, our goal is not to achieve such powers. We need to progress to the higher level of refining our mind without spending too long much time in Concentration Meditation.

Even if we do not achieve the prescribed 108 repetition of the chosen phrase without allowing the thoughts to stray outside even once, we should proceed to the next step after achieving reasonable success in this effort.

Step   7: Inputs from Vedas

Relaxation Meditation and Concentration Meditation can be attempted without any spiritual inputs. Even an atheist or immoral person can do them and gain powers. Powers gained by such people, will be harmful to self and others.

It is not possible to refine the mind any further if input from Vedas is absent. Vedas tell us what to do, how to lead our life and the reasons for doing so. This is broadly called Dharma. People should learn the meaning of Dharma and Adharma. General and Specific Dharma should be learnt.

One should realize the importance of practicing Dharma in life. This gives strength to the Aura Element.

Everyone has a set of accumulated preferences, impressions and knowledge, which keep accumulating because of the actions done in every lifetime.

Impressions decide the environment (including the physical body that one gets).

Preferences decide the desires, which prompt further actions.

Knowledge decides the will power, which directs and decides the course of life.

If the accumulated knowledge is inferior or less, it will not influence the life of a person in a big way. Slowly and steadily, the knowledge increases during every lifetime. This is true even for preferences. However, once the knowledge crosses the critical level, it starts influencing the life through will power.

Example: One may pick up the habit of drinking alcohol or smoking due to the accumulated preferences. However, when the accumulated knowledge becomes strong enough, such bad habits are dropped.

Similarly, our accumulated preferences dictate our behavior and we may or may not follow good values all the time. All the human beings are inherently aware what good values and bad values are. However, not everyone attaches equal importance to practicing such values. This is due to insufficient growth of knowledge.

The creation is composed of AEM (Aura, Energy and Matter). Although every human being is composed of all the three elements, the actions of a person are determined by the dominance of a particular element.

Matter dominant people are attached to physical objects of the world.
Energy dominant people are attached to actions.
Aura dominant people are attached to thoughts.

Thus, all of them will be tied to actions and they go through innumerable births during which the compositions of the elements keep modifying according to the actions. Only when one reaches the destination of Joyful Living, he will be beyond the influence of all the three attachments.

Example: A lamp has a steady flame, if it is shielded from the wind with a glass cover.

The lamp represents our physical body.

The flame represents our mind.

The wind represents the desires for external objects.

The glass cover represents our knowledge and conviction that there is no happiness in the objects of the world.

It is essential for the flame to have wind. However, if the wind is heavy the flame will oscillate violently. Similarly, the mind will be affected by the desires and it will be wavering. In order to gain steadiness, we should protect the mind with the right knowledge. Only then, it will remain steady like the flame in the glass cover.

When the knowledge gained by the individual gains dominance, his will power becomes a strong tool, using which he can release the clutches of preference driven actions. From then on, the life of an individual is influenced by the more by the knowledge and less by the preferences.

The preferences give rise to desires for sense objects. One does not attach much value to Dharma. Practicing Dharma ensures creation of positive impressions. Such positive impressions alone can give us favorable environment to us. They determine our success in life. They give us good family, friends and teachers.

While one is ignorant, he thinks that earning money, name, fame and such will bring him happiness. He will still know that practicing Dharma is important and correct. However, he may not have enough will power to redirect his actions.
Such a person will be struggling to make decisions in life when there is a conflict between earning money and practicing Dharma. Since, he may not know the importance of practicing Dharma; he may slip from it after a level.

Example: A government officer says that he will not accept bribe.

This resolution is relative and his determination not to accept bribe may not be absolute. The determination may depend on the amount of bribe offered. At lower levels, one may stick to the rules and regulations. At higher levels, people will break down and start breaking the rules. They may even start showing various justifications for their behavior saying that one cannot survive in this world by practicing Dharma.

The important issue is to know the ultimate goal in life. Since people do not know this and assume material comforts will lead to Joyful Living, they tend to keep a price for practicing values in life.

When he gains spiritual knowledge on the role of Dharma, in leading us to Joyful Living, he starts attaching more importance to practicing Dharma. Then, he will not compromise Dharma for the sake of earning material comforts.

Thus, when the knowledge level goes up, one can direct himself better and steer the life in the right direction. Such self-help is crucial for progressing in the steps towards refining the mind. Vedas prescribe Karma Yoga as a compulsory step for reaching the destination.

Step   8: Practice Karma Yoga

Before proceeding to higher levels of meditation, one should practice Karma Yoga for a length of time. When one finally reaches the destination of Joyful Living, it will be obvious that we do not do any action nor enjoy the results of the action. At that stage, one will start living in the present without any thoughts pertaining to action and results.

Practicing Karma Yoga requires one to abandoning the sense of ownership with respect to results of the action. One continues to think that he is the doer but as a part of Karma Yoga, one starts thinking that the results as gifts from God. Thus, the thoughts with respect to the results of the action are renounced at this stage.

People who do not do Karma Yoga will neither renounce the thoughts with respect to action nor about the results and therefore cannot progress any further.

One should keep on doing Karma Yoga until one gets the conviction that there is no happiness in the worldly objects. Action is done initially to change the world. Later as a part of Karma Yoga, action is done as a dedication to God and whatever be the environment, it is taken as a gift from God. This will give the correct mindset that there is no inherent happiness in the environment.

The second requirement to complete the practice of Karma Yoga is to have a deep desire to find the source of happiness. Having found out that there is no happiness in the external environment one will naturally get the curiosity to find the real source of happiness. This will make one eligible to abandon Karma Yoga and move further from Active Dharma to Passive Dharma so that the knowledge could be gained.

It is essential to abandon Karma Yoga at the right stage and not stick on to it forever.

Example: A king who is deposed from his kingdom plans to recapture his title. However, as a single man, he does not have the capability to wage a war. Therefore, he travels to different places and recruits army with the support of the neighboring states. The moment he gains enough strength, he should declare war and attempt to regain his kingdom. If he spends all his time in recruiting the army and never attempt to use them, it will be a waste of time and effort.

Similarly, the purpose of doing Karma Yoga is to progress and recapture our title to which we are entitled. One should not continue to do Karma Yoga without the intention of moving further up to the next step in refining the mind.

Step   9: Practice Expansion Meditation

Concentration Meditation trains the mind to focus on a single thought. It should be followed by Expansion Meditation in which mind is trained to expand to cover everything in the universe.

Example: When a woman becomes a mother, her thoughts expand to cover her baby as a part of her. She continues to see the baby as her own extension. She will be happy when the baby eats. She will be happy to undergo any suffering for the sake of the baby.

Similarly, the knowledge from Vedanta will enable us to see that the whole universe as part of us.

Procedure for doing Expansion Meditation:

After completing Relaxation Meditation, one should proceed to think about self, family, society, country, world, solar system and the universe in the same order. At each level one should see that the inseparability of one from another. At the end, one should see the holistic nature of the universe.

There is no more individual.

We do not see each finger in our hand as independent entities. All the fingers form part of our hand and all the body parts taken together constitute our physical body. Similarly, individual living beings are not independent entities. Everyone and everything in the universe are connected. This can be scientifically seen or religiously perceived as god, depending on one’s frame of mind.

Nevertheless, it is essential to feel the oneness at the end of Expansion Meditation.

Step 10: Practice Value Meditation

Value Meditation comprises of meditating upon the Dharma. Due to the strong pull of desires, one may tend to compromise on the practice of Dharma. One should never slip on this.

Intelligence has understood the importance of practicing Dharma.

Mind is under the influence of the desire stemming from accumulated preferences.

If the action prompted by desires, do not violate the practice of Dharma, then there is no problem. However, whenever there is a conflict a tug-of-war will happen between the intelligence and mind. Intelligence will require us to practice Dharma and mind will force us to yield to sense pleasures.

Practicing Value Meditation will bring down the wrong tendency of the mind within control and one will be able to live a life in line with Dharma.

Procedure for practicing Value Meditation

It depends on the personality of each individual. One should do a self-analysis and find out those good values for which one does not attach much importance and meditate upon them. Similarly, one should select the opposite of a bad value that one may posses, and meditate upon it.

Example: One hates his neighbor. He should practice meditation sending loving thoughts to the neighbor.

Value meditation should be practiced until a person is able to govern all his actions strictly according to the Dharma and not yield to the temptation of the sense organs.

Step 11: Inquiry of Vedanta under a teacher

The first ten steps can be completed while remaining in the Professional Lifestyle. If it is possible, one should adopt Spiritual Lifestyle to ensure faster growth from Step 11. However, it is not compulsory.

Inquiry means consistent and systematic study of Vedanta for a length of time under the guidance of a competent teacher who is alive and accessible for providing clarifications.

One must continue the process of inquiry until the essence is fully understood.

Step 12: Introspection of the knowledge

After learning the essence of Vedanta, one should reflect on the knowledge gained. One should question its validity in light of all the various religious philosophy of the world. It is not enough if one is convinced about the correctness of the knowledge that he has gained through the process of Inquiry. In addition, he should also know the reasons why others in the world have apparently different views and are under the firm knowledge that their philosophy is the right and absolute one.

After Introspection, one has complete self-knowledge.

Step 13: Understand the unique features of Vedantic Meditation

The previous four levels of meditations (Relaxation Meditation, Concentration Meditation, Expansion Meditation and Value Meditation) are done FOR gaining the self-knowledge. They are done so that the mind is prepared and matured enough to receive the knowledge.

Vedantic Meditation is done AFTER one gain the knowledge for the purpose of making the knowledge steady in the mind.

There are two problems with the unprepared mind. It may have many impurities like anger, hatred and such negative emotions. Secondly it may be of highly wavering nature and not amenable for systematic steady of Vedanta for a length of period. Without removing these two problems, even if one listens to Vedanta it will not give any knowledge.

Example: A primary school student attending a lecture of a college professor on advanced physics will not gain any knowledge even if he attends the lecture with all sincerity.

Similarly, Vedanta will not make any sense to the unprepared minds.

These two problems are removed through the first ten steps, which includes the previous four levels of meditations.

Once the mind is prepared, Inquiry and Introspection (Steps 11 and 12) are done for removing the ignorance. Once the ignorance, which is the root cause of all the sufferings in life, is removed through the right knowledge, one should do Vedantic Meditation to make it a steady knowledge. Then life will be joyful.

There are four differences between Vedantic Meditation and all other types of meditation.

Difference 1: Vedantic Meditation is done AFTER gaining the doubtless knowledge on the essence of Vedanta while others are done BEFORE gaining the knowledge.

Difference 2: Other meditations are done as a means to achieve maturity of mind so that it is capable of receiving the knowledge. Vedantic Meditation is for making the knowledge steady.

Difference 3: There are rules and regulations prescribed under Step 4, which is to be followed for practicing other meditations. For Vedantic Meditation such rules on Time, Frequency, Place, Posture and Composure etc are not applicable. One can do Vedantic Meditation in whatever way it is convenient. One may also have the option to follow the rules.

Difference 4: The only benefit of Vedantic Meditation is to gain steadiness in the knowledge whereas with respect to other meditations, one has the option to choose one of the two benefits. One can do them either for refining the mind or for gaining incidental benefits.

Step 14: Practice Vedantic Meditation

After Introspection, one has complete self-knowledge. His intelligence will be firmly rooted in the knowledge. However, his mind may not be equally rooted in the new knowledge due to two reasons. Each of these two reasons is resolved in the Stage 1 and Stage 2 of practicing the meditation.

Procedure for practicing Vedantic Meditation

Stage 1

Generic Reason: For a long time, one is under the impression that the world consists of objects that are different from us. After understanding the essence of Vedanta, it is known that nothing exists other than our self. This new knowledge might slip and we may behave as if the world is real, due to the force of habit.

Therefore, we need to do Vedantic Meditation reflecting on the true nature of Self, God and the Universe.

Stage 2

Specific Reason: This varies individual to individual. One may have strong preferences, which might be driving one to act as if he is still ignorant. For example, one was working hard to earn name, fame and recognition, prior to gaining the knowledge, may continue to be pushed to work equally hard even after gaining self-knowledge. Such hard work may be in the field of social service, since he is no longer attached to chasing material prosperity. However, he may still be driven by his strong preferences towards name, fame and recognition.

After gaining self-knowledge, one realizes that there is nothing to be done and nowhere to go. However, due to the force of the past habit one may still be working hard to achieve some goal in the illusory world. It is like running away from a tiger in the dream, even after knowing that it is a dream. One can stand and look at the eyes of the tiger directly, since the dream tiger has no power to hurt the person sleeping on the bed.

Similarly, after gaining self-knowledge, one need not struggle to do anything. This does not happen due to force of habit and one will continue to be caught by the illusory world.

Such persons should choose the factors that drive them and do meditation on removing the pressure. It is essential for him to meditate on the illusory nature of fame and divert one’s attention to the reality by doing Vedantic Meditation.

Vedantic Meditation is done similar to other meditations except that the subject matter is the variations of either ‘world is an illusion’ or ‘I am eternal’

Thoughts can be classified as old thoughts and new thoughts depending on the basis from which they arise. Prior to gaining self-knowledge, all the thoughts originate from the wrong impression that we are the body-mind complex. These are old thoughts. After gaining self-knowledge, we are aware of our real nature. Then in addition to the old thoughts, we also get the new set of thoughts that the Atman is the only reality and the universe is an illusion.

Ideally, the new thoughts should dominate all the time although the old thoughts may be used to deal with the world. Vedantic Meditation is done to gain more power to the new thoughts so that they can dominate.

During meditation, there will be a tug-of-ware between the old and new thoughts and the objective is to support the new thoughts and make them stronger.

Vedantic Meditation can be completed when the mind is also firmly rooted in the knowledge of Vedanta. At this stage, there will be no more actions. Whatever happens should be seen as the work of God. One should not feel the necessity of doing work for the sake of achieving anything in life, including serving or guiding others.

When one stops doing any action, then it is time to stop doing Vedantic Meditation.

Commencement of Joyful Living

After completing the all the 14 steps, one starts living a joyfully. There is nothing more to do and nowhere to go. The whole earth becomes a theme park and the life becomes a picnic.

Following are the features of a person living joyfully.

1. Complete Satisfaction

Everyone has experienced this complete satisfaction at some point of time in the life. However, such satisfaction do not lost forever because it is dependent on some achievement. This achievement could be anything from passing an exam to buying a car. Whatever, be the level or type of achievement, there is always a scope for improvement.

It is impossible to achieve something that is the ultimate and claim that there is nothing more to achieve, except in the case of self-knowledge.

One may get complete satisfaction for passing an important competitive exam and scoring the first mark in the state. However, there will be more exams to write and more qualifications to acquire. Therefore, the satisfaction does not remain complete. In the case of self-knowledge, there is nothing more to learn or do. Everything in the universe is known by learning self-knowledge. Therefore, one gets complete satisfaction, which does not reduce with the passage of time.

Nothing in the world can over throw this knowledge and therefore he enjoys undisturbed peace and remains eternally peaceful. His happiness is non-diminishing.

2. Perception of unity in diversity

Each human being is a carrying an image of the other human being in the mind. This image always differs from the original. The original itself is dynamically changing all the time. The only factor, which does not change is the formless and nameless Atman. Once a person completes the fourteen steps of refining the mind, he sees the continuously changing universe as an illusion supported on the non-changing Atman.

All the objects and persons in the dream are created out of the thoughts of the dreamer. Similarly, the world we see during the waking period is made out of the thoughts of the God. Therefore, there is no difference between the objects or living beings in the world. If there is really a difference between two persons then, everyone should be able to see such difference at all times. This does not happen. The perception varies person to person and time to time. This fact shows that the world is not absolute reality.

Everyone, including a person who has refined the mind completely, will encounter the following types of the persons sometime in the life.

Well-wisher: A good-hearted person who will volunteer to help without expecting anything in return
Friend: One whose interests are similar with whom we can spend the time happily.
Enemy: One who is not interested in our welfare and with whom we do not even want to have a face-to-face meeting.
Indifferent: Neither a friend nor an enemy
Neutral: One who treats our friends, our enemies and us equally.
Hater: One who hates us and shows the hatred openly. He may or may not be an enemy. An enemy will harm us with or without any hatred.
Relative: One who is related to us by birth and by marriage
Noble:  One who is wise and dependable
Sinner: One who habitually does bad actions

All such types of persons are real for those who have not gained self-knowledge. A person living joyfully will see them as the projection of his Atman. However, there will not be any difference in how one reacts or responds to the actions of these varied types of persons. It will be appropriate to the image one is carrying.

Teaching 78: Roles played by people are relative and not absolute

Example: One man says unless I divorce my wife, I cannot be happy. Another man says, referring to the same person, unless I marry this lady, I cannot be happy.

Thus, for ignorant people, from time to time, from person to person the perception will keep changing. A wise person will not be perturbed or affected by the existence of such variety for he knows that it is part of the deal.

 Example: Students of a class formed two teams and played football.

Everyone knows that all of them belong to the same class in the same school. However, as far as the game is concerned some are opponents and some are teammates. One will not pass the ball to an opponent just because he is his close friend.

Similarly, a Joyous Person understands that all are equal from the point of view of the sustaining Atman, but he deals with them appropriately according to the type of person.

Change is the only constant factor. It will be foolishness to stick a label on to the image in the mind permanently. People change all the time according to the circumstances. A Joyous Person wakes up each morning with a fresh outlook of the world. He does not judge people based on the past transactions. It does not matter to him if someone has used abusive words to him on the previous day. He will continue to be friendly.

Example: A tailor takes measurement of a person, every time he takes a new order. He does not say “I already have your measurements (taken in the previous year!)”.

Similarly, a Joyous Person does all the transactions in life based on the measurements taken in the present.

Even if some one does something wrong, he should be viewed as a sick person deserving pity and not hatred.

Example: In a birthday party, hosted in our house, one of our neighbors refuses to eat the sweets offered to him since he is diabetic. We do not hate him for not eating sweets. We pity him.
Another neighbor complains that he is not given enough food. Even if he abuses us, we should not hate him. We should pity him since he is ignorant and cannot behave in any other way.

Such will be the response of a Joyous Person. He knows that all the people who are apparently adults are in reality students of various classes in the lower grade. Only selected few like him could complete the course on Self-Knowledge and it is not possible to expect a school-going child to behave like a post-graduate.

3. Vision of uniformity in action

People are engaged in various activities in the world and some of them are given as examples:

Qualified professionals like doctors, engineers and accountants.
Workers and technicians like carpenters or electricians.
Artists working in the entertainment field like cinema, theater etc
Politicians and bureaucrats governing the state
Religions leaders and Social Service Activists working for public welfare
Teachers and professors working in the education field
Terrorists and revolutionists working to change the system
A Joyous Person does not find any gradation in such activities. He is aware that these varied actions CANNOT be classified as:

High or low
 Noble or ignoble
 Virtuous or sinful
Important or unimportant
Nation building or destructive
Efficient or wasteful

The only objective of all the actions is to improve the quality of the actor. It does not matter what work people do since every act results in increasing the existing stock of preferences, impressions and knowledge.

Teaching 79: Growth depends on attitude towards work and not on the type of work.

All actions are carried out according to the accumulated stock of preferences, impressions and the knowledge. The world is a theater in which the people are mere actors. They have no control on what they are doing and therefore it is not correct to judge them based on their actions. This truth is known to the Joyous Person. Therefore, he does not see the difference between a pebble, stone or a piece of gold. All are part of the illusion made up of the very same three elements.

4. Highest grade of happiness

What gives happiness varies from person to person. At the bottom most level, people become happy when the environment is feeding their five sense organs with favorable inputs. When people become more matured, they move up from physical level to mental level. At the top-most level, intellectual satisfaction gives more happiness than physical or mental happiness. The quality of happiness increases with physical, mental and intellectual levels.

In a bird show, a pair of lovebirds is appreciated by three people.
One appreciates because the birds look good.
Second appreciates it because the birds symbolizes love.
Third appreciates it because they display the glory of creation.

Thus, people who are more matured derive happiness from their intelligence. The highest grade of happiness comes when everything about God, Self and the Universe is known. Such is the happiness of the Joyous Person.

Teaching 80: Emotional happiness is superior to physical happiness.

Chapter 6: Science of meditation                        
Verses: 01 – 32

6.1 Lord Krishna said, one who is unattached to the results of his work and does work, as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life.

6.2 What is called renunciation is the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Brahman, for no one can become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense objects.

6.3 For a seeker who wants to do meditation, karma yoga is said to be the means; and for the one who has already attained to yoga, cessation of all activities is said to be the means.

6.4 A person is said to be have attained to yoga when, having renounced all desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in result oriented activities.

6.5 A man must elevate himself by his own mind, not degrade himself. The mind is the friend and his enemy as well.

6.6 For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his very mind will be the greatest enemy.

6.7 For one who has conquered the mind, the Brahman is already reached, for he has attained tranquility. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.

6.8 One whose mind is satisfied through self-knowledge and who is steady in the knowledge is called a yogi. He sees everything--whether it is pebbles, stones or gold--as the same.

6.9 One whose mind is the same with regard to well-wisher, friends and enemies, the envious, the pious, the sinner and those who are indifferent and impartial excel.

6.10 Remaining alone in solitude with a restrained mind and body, without any desire and without any possession, an aspiring yogi should constantly engage the mind in meditation.

6.11-12 To practice yoga, one should go to a secluded place and should lay kusa-grass on the ground and then cover it with a deerskin and a soft cloth. The seat should neither be too high nor too low and should be situated in a sacred place. The yogi should then sit on it very firmly and should practice yoga by controlling the mind and the senses, purifying the heart and fixing the mind on one point.

6.13-14 One should hold one's body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus, with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.

6.15 Thus practicing control of the body, mind and activities, the yogi attains the kingdom of God, which culminates in liberation.

6.16 There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, Oh Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.

6.17 He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.

6.18 When the yogi disciplines his mental activities and when he becomes situated in Brahman, devoid of all desires, he is said to have attained yoga.

6.19 As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the yogi, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the Atman.

6.20-23 The stage of perfection is called trance when one's mind is completely restrained from mental activities by practice of yoga. This is characterized by one's ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. Established thus, one never departs from the truth and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries.

6.24 One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with undeviating determination and faith. One should abandon, without exception, all desires born of false ego and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind.

6.25 Gradually, step by step, with full conviction, one should become situated in Atman by means of intelligence, and thus the mind should be fixed on the Atman alone and should think of nothing else.

6.26 From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the Self.

6.27 The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest happiness. By virtue of his identity with Brahman, he is liberated; his mind is peaceful, his passions are quieted, and he is freed from sin.

6.28 Steady in the Self, the purified yogi effortlessly achieves the limitless happiness, which belongs to Brahman.

6.29 A true yogi observes Me in all beings, and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized man sees Me everywhere.

6.30 For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.

6.31 The yogi who has attained the vision of oneness worships Me, who am present in all beings. That yogi abides in Me, though engaged in action in everyway.

6.32 Oh Arjuna, keeping himself as the standard, that yogi who sees pleasure and pain alike in all is considered the greatest.